Reformation Sunday Resources

Preparing for Reformation Sunday? Some of these posts might be useful:

Here We Stand, For We Can Do No Other

Luther, Spong, Fox, and Holy Cross

Enough with “A Mighty Fortress” Already! Sing a New Song!

95 Theses for the Twenty-first Century

Freedom from What?  All this Reforming is Wearing Me Out!

What Darwin Never Knew

A Reformation Day Nailing to the Internet – John Shelby Spong

A Prayer for Reformation – Thomas Berry

My “WHY?” Shattered my idol and my eyes were opened to a new reality. I’m talking about THE great big existential WHY? – a sermon for Lent 4A – John 9:1-41

Listen to the sermon here

Their baby was stillborn. Their pain was unbearable and so they asked, “Why?”

Her husband went out for his regular run; something he did every morning as part of his effort to stay healthy so that he would live long and prosper. Her husband was run over by a car and was dead by the time she arrived at the hospital.  To this day she asks, “Why?”

She was raped. The pain of violation refuses to leave her even after nine long years, during which her marriage fell apart. She could not and she cannot stop asking, “Why?”

On Friday, I watched a news briefing about the massive famine that encompasses much of Africa. Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Ethiopia are suffering from the ravages of starvation. More than 20 million people, many of them children are about to starve to death; 20 million people. It is the largest humanitarian crisis in the history of the United Nations. As I watched the horrific footage from the comfort of my living-room, all my being asked the question, “Why?”

This “Why?” was and is so much more than all the other Whys. This aching “Why?” is not the same as the other Whys. The Why that groans in me, that cries out for an answer is not: Why are babies still-born? Why do accidents happen?  Why is there so much violence? Why are millions of people, so many of them children, starving to death? These whys we can seek and find answers to. The Why that groans in me, is the Why that has haunted our ancestors for generations. I’m talking about THE great big existential WHY?

Why does God allow some people to suffer while others escape suffering? There must be a reason that you and I were born. There’s got to be a reason that we were born here and not in Africa. There simply must be a reason that some of us escape suffering while others of us can’t seem to catch a break. Why? Why God? Why? Nearly two-thousand years have passed and still this great big Why screams out from the deepest darkest places of our being. Why?

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I even prayed like a child. I prayed to God to save me and mine from all sorts of suffering. I believed that God heard my prayers and that God saved me and mine. But when I grew up, I put away my childish notions as I began to see some of my dear ones suffer. I saw the suffering but I refused to see what the suffering did to my carefully held beliefs about the god I chose to worship. My faith blinded me to the idol that I had created. Out of the stories handed down to us from our ancestors I, like so many of the members of my tribe, I had carefully constructed an idol which I believed was worthy of my worship; an all-powerful, all knowing god, whose wisdom was more powerful than my reasoning; who loved me beyond measure and just as surely loved all those dying babies and suffering victims.  Mine was not to reason why. Mine was but to trust and obey. The “big guy in the sky” would work it all out in the end. In the sweet by and by all would be revealed; no more blindness, no more doubt. In the meantime, all we could wonder, “Why?”  as long as we didn’t let our questions draw our attention from the idol we chose to worship. Blind faith was the only answer that could keep our attention firmly at the feet of the god of our creation.

Then one day a child died; a child I knew and loved, a child who had suffered most of her short little life and I was overwhelmed by the “Why?” that screamed out from the depths of my being. I, we had put all our faith in the omni god, this omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient god, the all-powerful, everywhere, and all knowing god that we willed into being, confident that by worshiping our idol, our precious little one would not be subjected to such suffering. When she died, the idol of my worship died with her. I was blind but now I see the folly of worshipping a god of my own making. My omni idol, had all the answers. No mystery, just reassurances.  Nothing beyond my ability to imagine or conceive. Like the Pharisees before me, I could not see beyond the parameters of the Law and the traditions handed down to me. But once my eyes had been opened, my vision changed and I could no longer see the way I once saw. My WHY? Shattered my idol and my eyes were opened to a new reality. Where once I could only see death as an enemy to be conquered, the death of one so sweet, so dearly loved, revealed to me the precious beauty of life. My eyes were opened to the reality of death as a part of life, the part that makes life so very precious. It took a long time, and more questions than I can begin to recall, but slowly, I began to see the contours of a MYSTERY beyond my wildest imaginings.

There is no sin in blindness. Blindness can be a safe haven from the tremendous MYSTERY that lies at the very heart of all that IS. But there is beauty beyond the darkness. Beyond the shattered pieces of our idolatry Beyond the horizon of our limited views, there is an EMBRACE the likes of which the mystics longed for; an EMBRACE that comes from the Source of all that IS, the great I AM of which our ancestors insisted permeated all that IS. An EMBRACE that is so much more that we can ever begin to express, and yet an EMBRACE whose contours stretch beyond the heavens to permeate all of life.

This MYSTERY that some of us call God, is the LOVE that is the ground and source of all being; the RELATIONSHIP that touches every life and lures us into being more than we dreamed possible. This MYSTERY may shatter our idols, but it also compels us toward a faith that opens the eyes of the blind to possibilities that deepen life by deepening relationship in ways that broaden our vision so that we too can become all that we are created to be. This MYSTERY invites all our WHYs. This MYSTERY is powerful enough to walk with us and all our questions into the dark clouds of unknowing that make life so very precious.  This MYSTERY does not demand blind faith. This MYSTERY opens our eyes to the beauty of becoming, over and over again, ONE with the MYSTERIES of LIFE.

These days, the great big WHY continues to overwhelm me and I confess that I am so very grateful to be overwhelmed because every time I am blinded by the idols of my own creation, Jesus comes along, heals my blindness, and disturbs me with visions that lead me Beyond my wildest imaginings. WHY? I do not know the answer. But I can see a way Beyond the WHYs a way that does not deny the pain or the beauty of the quest, a way that deepens and expands the beauty of the journey, a way that compels me toward the MYSTERY that is the LOVE some of us call God.

That LOVE empowers us to reach out in love to those whose whys overwhelm them; those who are grieving, those who desperately trying to recover from violence, and to do what is necessary to feed those who are starving. May your WHYs open your eyes so that you too can see BEYOND the BEYOND, and BEYOND that also, to the MYSTERY that is LOVE.  Amen.

We Need New Words to Praise the Silent Night Cosmically!

Silent NightSilent night, holy night is a perennial favourite! T’is the season for nostalgia. But what if we are serious about providing more than nostalgia in our worship? Can we, or do we even dare to offer worshippers new images that endeavour to engage our reality? Can we touch the spiritual but not religious crowds that wander into our sanctuaries seeking an encounter with the Mystery we call God, with a hint of our unknowing. Or are we content to address only the nostalgia seekers with safe images designed only to warm and not excite the imagination? Dare we beacon the nostalgia seeks beyond their memories toward the future? I wonder?  Maybe we can summon up the courage to compromise by simply adding a few new verses?  

The challenge belongs to all of us to write new words to enable us to sing our praise with integrity. Here’s a sample, with thanks to Keith Mesecher.

Reformation Sunday Resources

semper reformanda

Preparing for Reformation Sunday? Some of these posts might be useful:

Luther, Spong, Fox, and Holy Cross

Enough with “A Mighty Fortress” Already! Sing a New Song!

95 Theses for the Twenty-first Century

Freedom from What?  All this Reforming is Wearing Me Out!

What Darwin Never Knew

A Reformation Day Nailing to the Internet – John Shelby Spong

A Prayer for Reformation – Thomas Berry

 

What it Means to “Pray Always” – Matthew Fox

Recorded Oct.16, 2016: Matthew Fox preaches on Luke 18:1-8 at All Saints Church in Pasadena. Fox defines prayer as, “a radical response to life; a profound or deep response to life.” As such, working for justice is the embodiment of our response. 

Reformation Sunday Resources

semper reformanda

Preparing for Reformation Sunday? Some of these posts might be useful:

Enough with “A Mighty Fortress” Already! Sing a New Song!

95 Theses for the Twenty-first Century

Freedom from What?  All this Reforming is Wearing Me Out!

What Darwin Never Knew

A Reformation Day Nailing to the Internet – John Shelby Spong

A Prayer for Reformation – Thomas Berry

 

Recovering the Sacredness of the Earth: Matthew Fox

Creation“We are the first species on this planet that can choose not to become extinct. Of course we haven’t made that decision yet.”

For those of us following the lectionary readings for The Season of Creation, this Sunday is “Land Sunday.” Matthew Fox’s challenge for to us to “wake up” provides much inspiration to develop worship that shakes us from our sleep and empowers us to work together to develop harmonious relationships with creation that will foster healing of the Earth.

 

Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine: Calming Our Reptilian Brains – Matthew Fox

Divine Feminine Sacred MasculineI am currently enjoying Matthew Fox’s new book, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times in which Fox puts Eckhart in conversation with an engaging collection of mystic-wariors. So, it is not surprising that in this short video, I hear echoes of Eckhart.

 

 

Prayer for the Earth: Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee draws together Christian and Sufi traditions of mystical prayer to offer up a prayer for creation from creation. His book Prayer of the Heart is a rare find which I treasure. I beg your pardon for the robotic voice in the youtube video review of the book.

Contemplating the Beatitudes: preparing to preach on Matthew 5:1-12; Epiphany 4A

The gospel reading for this coming Sunday is Matthew 5:1-12, known as the Beatitudes. The reading is so familiar that we all too often read the beatitudes as if they were a  prescription. However, when read as a description they take on a whole new meaning. Jesus climbed up above the crowd, looked around and saw the poor, the grieving, the gentle, those who were hungry and thirsty for justice, the merciful, the righteous, the peacemakers and the persecuted; and Jesus comforted, uplifted and inspired them with the truth that they are blessed. Jesus was not telling the crowd how to live he was recognizing and affirming who they are. Can we hear this affirmation of our lives? As I prepare to preach on this text, I see the faces my congregation and I know that they are blessed for they too are the poor, the grieving, the gentle, those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, the merciful, the righteous, the peacemakers and the persecuted. The Good News is that the Kindom of Heaven is theirs. 

Walk With Me: Mary Youngblood

Wisdom from Our Spiritual Ancestors: Matthew Fox

Julian of Norwich Between pastordawn

I was introduced to the work of Matthew Fox long before I ever entertained the idea of becoming a student of religion. Fox’s groundbreaking book, “Original Blessing” introduced me to the work of the Christian mystics and helped me to see beyond the institutional theology of those who won the long forgotten theological battles of our past. His exploration of the work of those whose theology threatened the agendas of the powers that be and development of “creation spirituality” opened me to a new way of understanding and articulating Christianity.

We Need New Words to Praise the Silent Night Cosmically!

Silent NightSilent night, holy night is a perennial favourite! T’is the season for nostalgia. But what if we are serious about providing more than nostalgia in our worship? Can we, or do we even dare to offer worshippers new images that endeavour to engage our reality? Can we touch the spiritual but not religious crowds that wander into our sanctuaries seeking an encounter with the Mystery we call God, with a hint of our unknowing. Or are we content to address only the nostalgia seekers with safe images designed only to warm and not excite the imagination? Dare we beckon the nostalgia seekers beyond their memories toward the future? I wonder?  Maybe we can summon up the courage to compromise by simply adding a few new verses?  

The challenge belongs to all of us to write new words to enable us to sing our praise with integrity. Here’s a sample, with thanks to Keith Mesecher.

95 Theses for the Twenty-first Century

Delighted that so many of you after reading yesterday’s post have expressed interest in learning more of Matthew Fox’s 95 Theses for the 21st Century.  The best place to find out more is in Fox’s little book “A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity” published in 2006 by Inner Traditions press.

Click Here where you will find a complete list of Fox’s  95 Theses for the Twenty-first Century

Upon Hearing the News that “Archaeologists” Have Located a “Piece of Jesus’ Cross”

BeautyI’ve spent the past few glorious days on an island in Lake Nipissing enjoying the splendour of creation. I made the mistake of checking in from time to time on the comings and goings of the rest of the world. This morning, my perusal of offerings from the news media revealed an article heralding the discovery by archaeologists of a “piece of Jesus’ cross”. I couldn’t help myself. I just had to share the news with my delightful breakfast companions and together we mocked the very idea that this story would be considered news. After all, so many “pieces of the cross” have already been discovered and elevated for veneration, that one wonders why anyone would take notice of yet another attempt to produce a piece of the instrument of Jesus’ execution. Our collective mocking of the “news” article ended with questions: supposing we suspend credulity and go along with the idea that “they” have indeed found a piece of “the cross”, why would anyone care? Why would anyone want to venerate such an ugly relic when creation offers us so much beauty to venerate.

Surrounded by the grandeur of God, I could not help but turn my attention to Creation and venerate I did!

“A beautiful thing, though simple in its immediate presence,

always gives us a sense of depth below depth, almost an

                        innocent wild vertigo as one falls through its levels.” (Frederick Turner)

Here’s a glimpse of the object of my veneration. 

Beyond Eden: Opening Ourselves to the Power of Creation Myths

Maori creationLast week, as part of my preparation to teach a class on myth-making I spent some time exploring the creation myths from cultures other than my own. What I rediscovered was the power of story to help us make meaning of and in our lives. It is an exercise that I highly recommend! 

Sand Artist – Marcus Winter is an indigenous artist of New Zealand who brings the Maori Creation Story to life with his performance painting of sand art.

We Need New Words to Praise the Silent Night Cosmically!

Silent NightSilent night, holy night is a perennial favourite! T’is the season for nostalgia. But what if we are serious about providing more than nostalgia in our worship? Can we, or do we even dare to offer worshippers new images that endeavour to engage our reality? Can we touch the spiritual but not religious crowds that wander into our sanctuaries seeking an encounter with the Mystery we call God, with a hint of our unknowing. Or are we content to address only the nostalgia seekers with safe images designed only to warm and not excite the imagination? Dare we beacon the nostalgia seeks beyond their memories toward the future? I wonder?  Maybe we can summon up the courage to compromise by simply adding a few new verses?  

The challenge belongs to all of us to write new words to enable us to sing our praise with integrity. Here’s a sample, with thanks to Keith Mesecher.

Cosmic Mass

Matthew Fox is working to invigorate worship. Silenced by the Vatican and expelled from the Dominican Order, Fox continues to be the most read catholic theologian of our time. For several years Fox has been developing worship for a post-modern world. Taking the cyberspace revolution into sacred space. Quoting African spiritual teacher Malidoma Some who insists that there is no community without ritual, Fox has infused what he learned about rave masses in the United Kingdom with his own Creation Spirituality to create worship for 21st century Americans and dubbed this new form the “cosmic mass.”

“Our first 18 minute dance is during the Via Positiva, the last at the Via Transformativa wherein we receive the energy to be the spiritual warriors we need to be to transform society after we leave worship.  In between there is a deep experience of shared grief (via negativa) often including wailing and lamentation and the sharing of communion (via creativa). At the close of the service is a “via transformativa” dance or warrior dance which prepares us to go into the world and back to our communities as healers and strong defenders of compassion.  A variety of ages is always represented as well as many kinds of artists and people from diverse religious backgrounds ranging from Christian to Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Pagan.  The worship is so pre-modern in many respects that many find home there.  Beauty is everywhere present.  And one might say, magic.”

I can’t help wondering what form a cosmic mass might take among Canadian middle-class Christians???

95 Theses for the Twenty-first Century

Delighted that so many of you after reading this morning’s post have expressed interest in Learning more of Matthew Fox’s 95 Theses for the 21st Century.  The best place to find out more is in Fox’s little book “A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity” published in 2006 by Inner Traditions press.

Click Here where you will find a complete list of Fox’s  95 Theses for the Twenty-first Century

A Church for the Future – Matthew Fox

“We are here to grow a soul. Not just to sit on one and cash it in at the end of our life.” Matthew Fox explores the undiscovered territories that lie within us.  Developing a sense of the sacred that lives in all of us is vital as we engage in the expansion of our consciousness. But has the church, like humanity itself,  forgotten the sense of the sacred? Matthew Fox explores a vision of the church that is the place, the space, the happening, where mystics and prophets are birthed, nurtured, championed, supported, and challenged.  Fox encourages the church to embrace her prophetic calling to interfere with education, economics, and the environment. 

Reinventing Christianity – Matthew Fox

Back in 1989, before I ever began entertaining the idea of returning to school to prepare for a life in ministry, a fortuitous Christmas gift in the guise of a copy of Matthew Fox’s newly published The Coming of the Cosmic Christ sent me on a journey that continues to shape my understanding of what it means to aspire to follow Christ.
Barely two chapters into Fox’s challenging tome and I knew that if I was ever to begin to understand Fox’s visions of reality, I would need to begin nearer the beginning. In those days, searching for a book involved more than a web search and so I began travelling from book store to book store to scour the shelves for a copy of Original Blessing.


Original Blessing’
s Introduction begins with two questions: “1. In our quest for wisdom and survival, does the human race require a new religious paradigm? 2. Does the creation-centered spiritual tradition offer such a paradigm?” Having absolutely no idea what the word “paradigm” means, I knew I was about to be challenged. So, I got my dictionary off the shelf and prepared to wade into unknown waters.  

Lead by Fox, I explored the ancient wisdom of Creation Spirituality and began a love affair with the wonders of mysticism and the marvels of science that continue to reveal ecstasies that intrigue and excite my body, mind and spirit! 

Matthew Fox’s work continues to nourish my desire to approach they Mystery we call divinity. In the videos below Fox delivers (in 2 parts) the Jarvis Lecture in which he calls for the Reinventing of Christianity. Fox believes that “if we cannot reinvent our religious then we are doomed, the human species is doomed.” Fox insists that Christianity needs to reset its focus; away from a preoccupation with redemption toward a focus upon creation.